Netflix’s Interview Framework: Lessons on Hiring the Best Engineers
Do you recall how you picked teammates for projects back in school? You didn’t only choose the ones that were clever or very familiar with the subject. You would also like it better if your groupmates knew how to cooperate and take charge. You knew you needed someone who liked to help, too.
Even today in the workplace, strong partnerships can be formed, and productivity can be heightened with the right people. The hiring process for engineers is something you should be diligent with to pull the right people to your organization.
A Structure to Admire: Netflix’s Hiring Process
Netflix designed an employment structure that works well for them in finding the best workers to join their crew. A system like this allows a candidate to be evaluated for different roles without the chaos of going back and forth. All the tests and problems to solve during the interview process are like real tasks covered in the company.
Part of the assessment is how well a person can work with others. This can be seen in the second half of the proceedings.
It starts with a recruiter getting in touch with the applicant via phone. This is where they review with the candidate any possible role that might be suitable for them.
Next is to get a sense of a person’s background and knowledge about technology and problem-solving abilities through the Manager Phone Screen phase. This gives the applicant a background on what it’s like to work as a backend developer with the Netflix group.
Tech expertise is then assessed before asking the applicant to go on-site. Candidates may be given a choice between a take-home coding exercise or an hour-long discussion with one of the specialists.
The first round of interviews is with a panel of four or five people for 45 minutes each. There will be at least two tech specialists, a manager, and a recruiter. The tech guys will oversee giving the candidate design and coding problems to solve.
For the next round, candidates will meet more people, but this time they will be partnering with professionals from another group to assess their general abilities.
Lastly, feedback from each phase of the procedure will be gathered and reviewed. If the Netflix team decides to offer the applicant a role, the recruiter will then discuss their expectations for compensation, answer any other question left undiscussed, and give the applicant a start date.¹
Identify and Approach: Your Best Candidate Out of Many
If you are faced with a selection of great candidates, all with similar levels of proficiency, how will you choose the right one? Hire engineers that can adjust to the needs of your firm and then through their non-technical skills.
Ask the right questions to discover their soft skills.
Make behavioral interview questions a part of your hiring process. It lets you find out how an applicant responds to certain situations through their past experiences. You may use these queries to assess how they manage stress and challenges in a professional setting.² Ask for specifics. The answers you will be looking for here are concrete.
- “Tell me about a situation when you were assigned a very unfamiliar project theme. How did you accomplish the assignment?”
- “Have you ever had a disagreement with a teammate? How did you handle it?”
- “When it comes to being assigned multiple projects with the same deadlines, how did you choose which one to prioritize?”
Consider their skill sets over their experiences.
Look for people who can, not just those who have already done it. Learn to widen your candidate pool by including people who have a wide set of capabilities. It’s possible that some fresh graduates have more potential than those who’ve been in the industry for a decade. Think of it this way: technology is constantly innovating, and you may need the people who learned the most recent programs over lunch at school.
To make things fair, always keep technical interviews a part of your procedure to see which ones can work the best with you.
You can also talk about your company culture. Share with them how growth and mentorship work within the group. If training is provided, give them examples of what these are.
Reduce the possibility of unconscious bias in the interview process.
There are times that bias can be hard to avoid, especially when you feel that your previous employee was perfect. You already have a goal, an ideal person you want to meet among the crowd of professionals. Let yourself be surprised by letting go of your biases.
Don’t look back at the person who vacated the position.
Thinking about how good the previous employee was and comparing them to the applicants can bring uncertainty in the process. Instead, look at these people as someone to take over the responsibilities that were left behind.³
Bring other team members into the mix.
To make firm decisions, let a few of your colleagues be part of a panel. Choose the individuals who will be working closely with the applicant in the event he gets accepted. This will allow them to have a feel for the candidate’s personality and how compatible their knowledge of tech is to what the department is looking for.
Once you are done with the panel phase for hiring engineers, you and your peers may gather your feedback to make better decisions on which candidate to accept for the role.
Ask recruiters for help.
To avoid any kind of bias in the selection of candidates, try asking recruiters for help. They’re experts in identifying people who are the most suitable for your current needs. Another benefit is that they can handle the employment management needs of your new employee.
Be sure to partner with a staffing company that is focused on the industry you are targeting or serve.
Instill curiosity in your candidates about the organization.
Be proud of your current team and showcase your organization. This doesn’t only cover the many benefits you will be providing, but also the values and the strengths that candidates may gain from working with you.
Tell them why you need them. Talk about how you do things, which parts of it you like best, and then include how your applicant can potentially improve things around the office
Offer new growth opportunities.
Make trainings part of your offer. According to LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report, 94 percent of employees keep a position longer if they were offered avenues for career development.
Investing in the growth of your employees increases their motivation because they know you value them. This can lead to better productivity and results in the office.⁴
Other forms of training you may want to include are those on teamwork and social niceties, to improve how everyone adapts to each other’s needs in the workplace.
Define a purpose in the role.
Give your potential associate a sense of fulfillment by giving them an idea of what results their work can bring on a bigger scale. Purpose can help people understand better why their new role matters to their career in the long run, and why their career impacts the organization or the industry.
This can lead to inspiration and resilience to work harder, since you gave them a definition of what their future may look like.⁵
It could be that their new developments can help people with disability enjoy technology better or that a certain procedure can keep more industries safe from online crimes.
Be competitive enough to be able to work around a budget and make decisions fast.
If a person suits your vacancy very well, act fast and bring them on board. They may end up renegotiating your offer if they think their abilities are worth more than what’s in your job description and you should prepare a budget just for this.
If you can’t add to the offer, include other benefits that may also be enjoyed by your present roster. You can add emergency savings, lunch and transportation allowances.
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1 Karen Casella. “Demystifying Interviewing for Backend Engineers @ Netflix”. https://netflixtechblog.com/demystifying-interviewing-for-backend-engineers-netflix-aceb26a83495 . Published last February 1, 2022. Accessed last March 31, 2023.
2 Rebecca Parson. “Behavioral Interview Questions”. https://money.com/behavioral-interview-questions/ . Published last February 24, 2023. Accessed last March 31, 2023.
3 “15 Steps To Reduce Unconscious Bias In The Hiring Process”. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2023/03/21/15-steps-to-reduce-unconscious-bias-in-the-hiring-process/?sh=7a00e768281c . Published last March 21, 2023. Accessed last April 1, 2023.
4 Ginni Saraswati. “Five Reasons Offering Career Development To Employees Benefits Companies”. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2022/07/01/five-reasons-offering-career-development-to-employees-benefits-companies/?sh=15a8a350e943 . Published last July 1, 2022. Accessed last April 1, 2023.
5 Indeed Editorial Team. “How To Find Purpose in Your Work (Benefits, Steps and Tips)”. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/purpose-in-work#:~:text=Purpose%20in%20work%20is%20the,impacts%20the%20organization%20or%20industry. Updated last February 4, 2023. Accessed last April 1, 2023.